A number of friends and colleagues have noted that the phrase Intentional Community is both inadequate to our understanding and possibly irredeemably tainted by the track record of many intentional communities. I have been thinking a lot about what phrase (signifier) might capture the deeper meaning and reality (signified) of the concepts we are tossing about. Today finally, the term Conscious Community came to me.
One of the sticking points i had with intentional community was a sense that at its very core, it was all about control. If you just get the right people, the right place, the right leadership, the right processes, the right economy, and so on, you can have the nirvana-esque community experience of your dreams. Those folks who failed, well, they just made mistakes in judgement--poor planning--bad personality mix...you've heard it. I propose that the reason most intentional communities fail, is that the meaning of intentional, implies at its deepest (unconscious) level the belief in control. And anybody who has taken a look at living ecologies of relationship can see that they are complex systems whose order emerges organically out of chaotic conditions always present at some level. It is the confusion of harmony with changeless bliss. Harmony is NOT static. It is the dynamic tension within healthy ecologies of relationship.
So instead i have proposed Conscious Community. Conscious implies that we are taking full responsibility for what we care about. We commit to be as aware as possible of the impact of our actions and we take personal responsibility for their consequences, even the unintended. Taking full personal responsibility does not mean we take blame or over-extend ourselves to accept responsibility for others reactions to our actions. It does mean that whatever consequences arise from our actions, we stand in mature relationship to ourselves, the other, and the Divine. The concept of Conscious Community includes the deep belief that we cannot control our living ecology of relationship--we can only ever co-create it emergent from mystery into the open space we hold and host together.
A Conscious Community is one in which members commit to bring consciousness to their lives and relationships. Its nature is exploratory and welcoming of deep diversity. Conflict is expected as an essential part of a healthy ecology of relationship and is greeted with an orientation of joy as an opportunity for personal and community growth and evolution. It is not a fail-safe environment; it is a safe-fail environment. It recognizes that all human beings have frailties, make mistakes, hurt those they love, have ugly sides, need solitude and privacy. It commits to provide its members with unconditional positive regard and love, regardless of their imperfections. It holds members accountable for their choices and the consequences of those choices. It is characterized by flow, states of grace, courage, discernment. A Conscious Community still has bad hair days--chaotic and challenging times. It also has the resiliency to thrive through them.
Does this resonate for you? Could you live in a community of belonging like this? Are you courageous enough to accept responsibility for what you care about? If yes, open your eyes and look around; see who is in the water with you and begin.
All for now.
Blessings and love to you all.